Blog 72 - Sepia



To celebrate my own liberty from the enforced isolation following that false positive Covid test, I have chosen an old silk scarf by my favourite, long established London store of the same name LIBERTY. A simple design of squares and longer blocks of sepia on a black background with a dark mustard edge. Little did I know a few days ago how much trouble that very name sepia would cause me.



I was quite excited about trying out a new experience as I assembled the ‘tools of the trade’ I would need. It wasn’t exactly a new experience, rather a rekindling of something I used to do a lot. In these present fast-living times of email, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc, one has forgotten the art of the hand-written letter. I had signed up for a session to discuss the subject within a small group, share meaningful letters from the past, and then quietly write together. I had pleasant memories of writing letters as a child to penfriends around the world which led to holiday exchanges. Later in life, when my family was separated by oceans, letter writing was a big part of my weekly routine to elderly parents, sister, children and many friends. This week, a ball point pen would not be good enough for my renewed efforts, so I searched for a nice nibbed pen and a bottle of sepia ink. The latter had been bought some years ago when I thought I’d try my hand at calligraphy. I unscrewed the top. Yes, the ink was still good. I packed the bottle, writing paper and my handbag into a canvas bag and set off for the bus station.



Mask in place, seated in the front of the bus, I replaced my bus pass in my handbag. Imagine my horror to see the top had unscrewed itself from the bottle and there was a sea of cuttlefish brownish red ink dripping through the canvas bag. I sweated under the mask and feverishly screwed the top back on. Both hands were now dripping with what looked like blood. I had nothing to wipe them on. As I left the bus, I was aware I was leaving a bloody trail on handles, rails and on the floor of the No.68. I dumped the sodden writing paper in a waste bin. I wonder what the bin collector made of that? I hope it didn’t give any false clues to a knifing in that area of a teenager two weeks ago!



Not a very ladylike entry to my letter writing group with dripping wet, red stained hands! I cleaned up as best as I could and tried to ignore the brown beneath my finger nails. There was still a tiny amount of ink left in the bottle.



It was an inspiring session, sharing memories of significant letters. At the next meeting I will bring the unfinished letter to my grandmother from a young son who died in Flanders in the 1914-18 war, aged just nineteen. We drank tea served from an elegant china teapot and wrote on fine quality stationery donated from the estate of a lady from which I had been given three mystery silk scarves….see blogs 54-56 Series 2. I completely forgot about my trail of cuttlefish ink and quietly wrote.



Later that night, my freezer blew its fuse and panic reigned yet again. My kind neighbour came to the rescue. Finally I retired to bed. As I undressed, I noticed a huge bruise above my knee. I am on a blood-thinner, and this was the mother of all bruises! What next? It had been quite a day. I took a photo. Doctors respond to photos! I then remembered the sepia ink. Yes, the ‘bruise’ washed off. My black trousers have now been laundered.



My granddaughter later told me the story of her friend’s mother or granny whose feet had turned blue and she called the ambulance. It’s no good buying cheap blue socks if you have sweaty feet. At least I didn’t call 999.



I guess someone called an ambulance for that injured young man in Twickenham but it was too late. I never knew the circumstances of the young soldier’s death on the battlefield, but I thought of him at 11am on Remembrance Day last week. His copperplate writing put mine to shame…….And to think I was worrying about some spilt sepia ink.



Busy Bee, Scarf Face!

Series 2, Blog 72.

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